business news in context, analysis with attitude

The St. Petersburg Times has an interesting profile of Laura Johnson, described as the “frontline flavormeister” at Publix Super Markets, responsible for developing private label products for the retailer that will allow it to maintain a competitive advantage in the face of heightened competition. Johnson, the paper writes, “has finely tuned taste buds that have played a big role in launching millions of dollars worth of ice creams, cultured yogurts, frozen yogurts and even tea, lemonade and soda pop.”

One of the keys in Publix’s private label strategy is covering all sides of the spectrum, according to the Times. That means that Johnson has created both premium-quality gourmet ice creams as well as “ a line of reduced-carbohydrate ice cream for diabetics, the Atkins/South Beach diet crowd and others among the nation's estimated 70-million carb counters.”

The paper notes that it isn’t just a matter of creating new products that generate new sales. “Publix uses ice cream, and the many fancy flavors, as a key signal to consumers that it celebrates quality foods and has all the latest goodies for foodies.”

Publix isn’t just using new products to grow, by the way. The Tennessean reports that having purchased seven Albertsons units in the Nashville market as a way of quickly establishing a presence there, Publix now is planning to build at least four new units in the suburbs of the city.
KC's View:
For us, it isn’t just about products. Ore even location. It’s about attitude…and understanding that you have to invest in creating differential advantages. Too many retailers spend their time focusing on the competition rather than the customer, playing defense instead of offense.